Science Fun Day Camp 2011
Insects, arachnids, and other arthropods and things
We collected insects from a wild area around a small pond near the
school. There were a lot of dragonflies, damselflies, Japanese
beetles, bees, butterflies, and leaf hoppers. Later we searched
close to the school and found a different mix: ants, bumble
bees, caterpillars, sow bugs, and crickets (including a mole
cricket). We made jars with acetone absorbed on plaster of Paris
in the bottom that were used to kill the specimens so they could be
We were so busy capturing them that we forgot to take any pictures so
here are a couple of examples of what they collected.
If you want to see a lot more of our insect pictures click here.
Bug-Go. It's kind of like Bingo but you have a card with 24
pictures and a free cell of course. You have to find the picture
of each insect called. If you would like to try it for yourself
you can find it here.
We made our our own camp t-shirts using stencils,
markers, ink stamps, and silk screen printing.
The kids would be
glad to tell you how they decorated their shirts.
We worked more on our insect collections with proper
pinning and labeling.
Other sites have
help with identification. If there is an insect you would like to
learn more about it you can click here.
Some pointers for collecting and preserving them can
be found here.
We also made cyanotype blueprints.
I used solutions of these chemicals in equal amounts, mixed, painted on paper, and then allowed to dry in a dark room.
The resulting paper has a greenish
color. The darker areas are where it touched other things while
it was drying or there was more of the mixture.
The kids put all sorts of stuff on
the paper while they were in the classroom then carried it out into the
sunshine. Some of the things we used were coins, keys, leaves,
stencils, letter cutouts, bugs (real and plastic ones), picture
transparencies, and other stuff.
Here are some of the transparencies.
We could see the paper change color
over the next few minutes. We then took it back inside and rinsed
it. This removed the unreacted chemicals so they wouldn't react
later. When the paper dried it process was complete.
I am sorry we didn't think about
taking photographs while the campers were making their exposures but
here are examples of some results. The figure between the I and M
in the last picture is where one of the kids put some sunscreen on a
piece of clear plastic to see what it would do.
There may be more
pictures. If any campers or chaperons would like to share
pictures they took please email them to me.
We often challenged the campers with puzzles when we had a few
minutes. Here they are trying to disentangle some wire puzzles
while we were waiting for the rest of the campers to arrive.
The COSI science museum is in Columbus Ohio so we loaded into a school
bus for a 3.5 hour trip.
We finally arrive.
Some of us went to a presentation all about the weather. Air
pressure is enough to keep two hemispheres together against our
camper's efforts to pull them apart. That is if there is no air
inside to equal the outside pressure. Let some air in and they are
separated easily. Liquid nitrogen was used to make a cloud.
Our campers dove in and rolled around in it (the cloud not the liquid
A specialized cannon demonstrated that a pencil could penetrate a solid
board if it is moving fast enough. Tornadoes can easily get
projectiles moving that fast. There are pictures of straw stuck
through a fence post.
Presenters had stations along the halls where they would talk with the
visitors, give them a peek into various sciences, ask, and answer
Some straws in chunks of wood after a tornado.
Stare at the rotating circle for 30 seconds or so and then look at your
friends. Your eyes will have adapted to the motion and they will try to
compensate producing some interesting squirming effects in their
faces. Not so apparent in this short clip but you can see
reactions when they try it.
Here is a video of the disk that you can try.
The electrostatic shows gave the kids a chance to see the effects of
electric fields and feel what high voltage, low current electricity
feels like. If you are charged the person you point at will feel
his hair attracted to your finger. Get too close and you will
both feel a spark. If there is a chain of people holding hands
electricity will flow through all of them. Those closest to the
Van de Graaff will get the biggest shock since some of the charge goes
to ground at each link of the chain.
Can you ride a unicycle? These campers did. Not only did
they ride it they did it on a wire 18 feet over COSI's main
lobby. A counterweight under it makes it stable.
In the Big Science Park you can try
some things that you may not have
done before. That granite ball weighs 5000 pounds but it is supported
by a flow of water that provides a nearly frictionless bearing.
It isn't hard to spin but you can feel its massive inertia. Pull
on the rope attached to the big lever and you lift a car. Ride
the gravitron. It is a room that spins fast enough to hold you
against the wall ... then the floor drops out and you are stuck
there. Until it slows down and you slide down and may find you
get an atomic wedgie.
We all had fun at the fireworks show. All about the chemistry of
fireworks with the requisite explosions and colored flames. The green
barrel fired smoke rings out over the audience.
In the Gadget Cafe campers and some of the rest of us got to
disassemble some computers to see what they were made of. We will
get to do a lot more with other things back at camp on Thursday.
We went to Space where we practiced landing a lunar lander and the
space shuttle. Lots more displays and demonstrations too.
Then into The Ocean where these intrepid explorers found some
intriguing fountains and a yellow submarine.
Back at camp we took a look at what's inside all
sorts of stuff. Campers took apart computers,
scanners, cell phones, hard drives, laptops, a steam iron, an
machine, and a fax/scanner/printer. And tried to identify
what they found. We were able to help with some of the things
that they hadn't seen before. You can learn a lot by
disassembling old/broken stuff to see what's inside. A good
site to learn more is here. Use their search bar for whatever you
want to find out about.
We had the campers pick out something that they had discovered and than
tell us about it. The "bloody" mess in the last picture is the
print unit from the Addressograph machine.
How observant are you. We took a look at some short videos to see
if we would be good witnesses. You can see how you would do with the
two tests found here and here.
We also studied ballistics, trajectories, and how to
measure muzzle velocity of a bean shooter.
The computer simulation of the trajectories of
cannon shells, golf balls, pianos, Buicks, and people can be found here.
You can use this page to calculate the muzzle velocity of your
Everyone got to try the three camper water balloon slingshot.
This series of pictures shows several of the campers preparing to load,
then just as it is released, when it has just stated its flight, and
the looks of concern when it nearly goes beyond our shooting range.
We also investigated cryogenics using liquid
nitrogen. We did some of the experiments on this page.
Campers learned a little magic like how to make a penny
disappear. I showed then a few other tricks for them to try
to figure out. Some did!
I don't usually reveal how I do my tricks but here
is one you can do that will stump most people. Here's another.
Remember to practice so you can do them smoothly before you try to fool
I know the campers had a lot of fun, learned some science along the
way, and are looking forward to their next camp. See you then.
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